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Community Organizing 1:
Central Thailand Learning Journey

2-6 January 2023

Learning Journey

Bangkok – Kanjanaburi, Central Thailand


Pracha Hutanuwatr

In the context of unrestrained capitalism, community is deteriorating at all levels. Among the poorest of the poor are the homeless and slum-dwellers who live in big cities all over Asia. They are the most vulnerable in terms of sustenance, shelter, and other basic needs that constitute decent human life, as well as education for their youngest who could be in a position to elevate their families’ futures. Similarly, rural communities have fallen victim to capitalist exploitation in all its forms as well, forcing them - with the help of debt and consumerist mindset - to become the superfluous providers for people at the upper levels of the societal pyramid.


With skillful means of community organizing for empowerment, both urban and rural groups can form communities respectively and work for the betterment of their own lives and lives of fellow sufferers of the modern system. In fact, during the past 50 years we have witnessed encouraging movements in Bangkok as well as other large cities, and can learn a lot from these communities and its facilitators/ organizers. Additionally, there have been (and still are!) rural communities who have identified these issues and attempted to liberate themselves from this modern form of slavery. 


During the learning journey, participants will get a chance to visit some of these communities who have initiated this reconstruction process, and learn from their stories. They will review their journeys from beginning to present day, linking the practices and theories behind them and pondering possibilities for their success and failure in the future. 


Chamnong Jitnirat, a teacher by training, works at the grassroots level to create a coherent national movement for urban community development in Thailand. He addresses the problem of managing the ever-growing number of slum communities in the country by engaging the slum community leaders of Bangkok as community educators in other provinces. He founded his own organization, the Housing Development Foundation, one of the first to focus on community development. It successfully mobilized and supported many slum communities in Bangkok and attracted financial support from international agencies. Chamnong was also behind the establishment of various coordinating committees for citizen sector organizations concerned with management of poor urban communities in Bangkok. He has published a book describing his sixteen years of experience with poor urban communities and has written a number of articles concerning the problems and needs of the urban poor. Chamnong is also the advisor to the People's Movement for Justice Society (SEA) or P-Move.


Preeda Kongpan’s work is dedicated to defending the rights of Thailand’s indigenous peoples, including formerly sea-faring people (chao leh) along southern Thailand’s Andaman Coast. She has served in various committees relating to disaster recovery with particular focus on secure livelihoods. She serves as the Manager of Chumchonthai Foundation (Thailand), director of the foundation and a member of a Cabinet-appointed panel on “sea gypsies”, as well as a commissioner of the Thailand Office of the National Human Rights Commission.


To experience, learn about/ from and be inspired by diverse case studies of successful urban poor and rural community reconstruction movements in Central Thailand


Participants will:

  1. join a learning journey to different successful case studies of both urban poor and rural communities – from Bangkok to Kanjanaburi – and meet some of the community facilitators/ organizers of their movements

  2. become acquainted with issues and problems facing urban and rural communities, critically comprehend and analyze underlying structural causes of these issues 

  3. discover and learn about different community organizing for empowerment skills and worldviews involved in organizing reconstruction movements

Recommended Reading

  • Alinsky, S.D. (1971). Rules for Radicals [Online]. 

Retrieved From:

  • Bhatkal, T., & Lucci, P. (2015). Community-driven development in the slums: Thailand’s experience[Online]. Blue Delliquanti. 

Retrieved From:

  • Nattawut, U. (2012). Successful Approaches to National Slum Upgrading and Prevention, Thailand[Online]. Housing Study Unit Center for Integrated Socio-Spatial Research. 

Retrieved From:

  • Pyles, L. (2009). Progressive Community Organizing: A Critical. Approach for a Globalizing World. New York, NY: Routledge.

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